Cardinals' Daniel Poncedeleon Called Up 1 Year After Brain Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 3: Daniel Poncedeleon #95 of the St Louis Cardinals throws the ball against the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 3, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Nationals 2-1 in ten innings. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Monday they promoted right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon to their major league roster.

The move comes a little over a year after Poncedeleon took a line drive to the head during a start in May 2017, an injury that required emergency brain surgery.

Poncedeleon didn't make another appearance over the remainder of the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old began 2018 with St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, and he's 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 59.2 innings. He has also struck out 71 batters but issued 35 free passes. 

MLB.com doesn't list Poncedeleon among St. Louis' top 30 prospects, and MLB.com's Joe Trezza noted the odds were against him reaching the majors when he started his pro career:

Joe Trezza @JoeTrezz

Daniel Poncedeleon almost cried when he heard he’d been promoted. Even without the scar, he was a Major League longshot: four colleges, history of arm trouble, 9th round pick...then came the comeback that threatened his life. “I won’t let it define me,” he says.

While Poncedeleon has spent much of his time in the minors as a starter, The Athletic's Mark Saxon speculated the Cardinals may use him out of the bullpen. 

Adam Wainwright and Alex Reyes are nursing injuries, but the starting rotation hasn't been much of an issue for St. Louis. Cardinals starting pitchers are fifth in FIP (3.55) and seventh in WAR (6.3), according to FanGraphs.

Poncedeleon could be utilized as a spot starter or long relief option in the likely event he doesn't crack the rotation.